Among these the land shall be divided for inheritance according to the number of names. – Numbers 26:53
The Book of Numbers is marked by two countings. The first one is in chapter 1, and the second is here. This one marks the end of a period: all those 20 years or older have died, except for Joshua and Caleb. Moses is still alive too, but he will not enter either. This new counting indicates a new generation.
These numbers speak of God’s faithfulness and care. After all that has happened, there is a new generation, there is still a people. Each tribe is represented. They will all receive a part of the land as promised to Abraham. In fact, the number is quite close to the first number. In spite of Israel’s grumbling and stubbornness, the LORD goes on. He counts His people again, to make sure they are all there. He counts those who are able to go to war. There are battles coming. Inheriting the land will require effort.
The chapter also contains a warning for next generations, to go on in faith and obedience. Notice that throughout this chapter, people are mentioned who died because of disobedience or irreverence. It mentions the plague that had just happened. It refers to Dathan and Abiram. (Although, we also learn that the sons of Korah did not die!) When Judah is counted, Er and Onan are mentioned. Among the Levites, we find Nadab and Abihu, who died. Inheriting is by faith, it is not automatic. Let’s not take it for granted, but heed the warning of this counting.
Suggestions for prayer
Thank the Lord for His faithfulness. Pray for strength to follow the Lord, to trust and obey Him. Pray that next generations may confess this as well.
This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Douwe G. J. Agema is currently minister of Living Word Canadian Reformed Church in Guelph and also teaches several courses at Covenant Canadian Reformed Teachers’ College.